Al-Monitor |Rohollah Faghihi: Iranians tuned into state television’s Channel 1 to watch the first round of presidential debates — a forum that greatly shapes voter sentiments.
Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri and Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, a former minister of industries and mines, are the candidates of the Reformist-moderate camp. On the other side of the political spectrum, the conservatives are represented by Ebrahim Raisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of the eighth Shiite imam, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Mostafa Mirsalim, a former minister of culture and Islamic guidance.
The first televised debate was supposed to be about social issues, but quickly turned into a highly political battle over the economy. The clash began when Rouhani was to make his address, and Ghalibaf — who was defeated by Rouhani in the 2013 presidential elections — claimed that the incumbent had previously promised that he would create 4 million jobs. Rouhani quickly denied this and interrupted Ghalibaf by saying, “I do not want this lie to continue and do not want Mr. Ghalibaf’s sins to increase.”
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